The seventy were returning from their indigenous missionary excursion with exuberant joy. They had not only witnessed incredible events, they participated in them. Sick people were instantly healed, sinners repented, demons flew out of the possessed, and many responded to the gospel of the kingdom! As the seventy reported to Jesus these incredible events, especially the fact that even the demons were subject to his name, Jesus responded by saying:

Luke 10:18-20
18 And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. 19 “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. 20 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”

The first part of his response talks about watching Satan fall from heaven. I have heard preachers use this as proof that Jesus was there in the beginning when Satan rebelled against God and fell from heaven. In fact, this is sometimes brought forward as one of the clues that Jesus left about his divinity. Even so, how would this interpretation fit with the overall context? The disciples report to Jesus that the demons had submitted to Jesus’ name. Jesus responds by saying, “Oh, that’s to be expected, after all, I was there when Satan fell from heaven in the first place!” What does witnessing the fall of Satan have to do with authority over demons? Furthermore, wouldn’t Jesus have said, “I watched Satan fall from heaven,” rather than “I was watching Satan fall from heaven?”

I believe the solution to this riddle is to put this cryptic saying back into the historical context in which it was spoken. The seventy had just participated in wreaking havoc on Satan’s kingdom by liberating people from demonic control. Jesus remarks, that he was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Why was Satan rushing to the earth? Could it be that he needed to fly to the aid of his beleaguered minions? Or perhaps Jesus is speaking metaphorically to convey the image of defeat. Here are what a couple of popular commentaries say about this:

Baker Commentary on the Bible, ed. Walter A Elwell, page 820.
“When Jesus says that he saw Satan fall from heaven (v. 18), he is not speaking of Satan’s prehistoric fall, nor is he referring to a vision he had during the disciples’ ministry, nor is he predicting Satan’s future fall. He is merely describing in symbolic terms the impact of the disciples’ ministry. The kingdom of God was making inroads on Satan’s domain.”

The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener, pages 216-217.
“Exorcists usually had to employ various incantations to persuade demons to leave; thus the disciples are amazed at the immediate efficacy of Jesus’ name…Although the texts often cited today as describing Satan’s fall (Is 14; Ezek 28) refer contextually only to kings who thought they were gods, much of Jewish tradition believed that angels had fallen (based especially on Gen 6.1-3). But the context and the imperfect tense of the Greek verb (“I was watching”) may suggest that something altogether different is in view here: the self-proclaimed ruler of this age (Lk 4.6) retreating from his position before Jesus’ representatives. (…the image of falling from heaven is usually not literal, e.g., Lam 2.1)”

So, in conclusion, this cryptic saying of Jesus likely reflects commentary on the report the seventy had given him concerning their power over demons. Furthermore, the notion that Jesus watched Satan fall from heaven in some antediluvian pre-existent state is pure mythology based on a weak biblical inference.

21 Responses to “I Was Watching Satan Fall from Heaven”

  1. on 03 Dec 2008 at 12:12 pmVictor

    Excellent observation Sean. Thanks for putting this together.

  2. on 03 Dec 2008 at 2:09 pmJohnO

    I definitely agree. This is an apocalyptic saying – investing theological and spiritual meaning, through the use of cosmic images and symbols, in reference to a historical event in the present (the activity and the success of the mission of the seventy).

  3. on 07 Dec 2008 at 1:26 amSteve

    Sean,

    Something else to note about this text is that is doesn’t say that Satan fell from heaven, but rather reads literally that his fall was “as lightning from heaven”. It describes the sudden and dramatic demise of Satan “as lightning”. It’s the lightning which falls “from heaven”, not Satan.

    I would agree with the observations made in Bakers Commentary. It fits with Jesus’ own comment in Matthew 12:28 that by casting out demons Jesus was overtaking Satan’s kingdom.

  4. on 17 Mar 2009 at 7:29 pmLeonard Raglin

    When cloud-to-ground lightning occurs(an occurance that every one of the seventy were familiar with) “HIGH-UP” power gets “GROUNDED”. When lightning is grounded, it is “abased” or “brought low”. Benjamin Franklin studied laws of electricity but he also studied the saying of Jesus very closely too. Human pride comes before it is brought low in a fall. High-minded thinking has to be grounded. When a pride-filled, high-minded enemy of the church named Saul of Tarsus saw the light of God, the Bible states that he “fell to the ground”. The adversary fell after a loving sermon and a loving action by a table-server named Stephen ate at his conscience. When Saul fell, the adversary fell. Every adversarial imagination and highminded-thought in Saul that exalted itself above and against God and His Word was cast down when Saul fell.
    When our adversarial thoughts are brought low and grounded, I guarantee you that Jesus sees the same thing that He saw when He was responding to the seventy. He sees Satan(adversary) fall. Angels are not God’s adversaries never were. We high-minded fallen humans who exalt ourselve as god in our God created temples are the adversaries of God.
    Let the grounding begin with me!

  5. on 23 Apr 2009 at 6:25 pmRobert

    He said and to them: I beheld the adversary as lightning out of the heaven having fallen. (Luke 10:18) EMPHATIC DIAGLOTT Greek to English ‘ Word for Word ‘ Interlinear.

    It is usually argued that Satan was cast out of heaven prior to the events of Genesis 1-3, or that he was cast our of heaven in 1914 (as J.W.’s assert), but this passage squares with neither, since Jesus said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven”. (This was about A.D. 30).
    The passage does not state either that Satan was in heaven or that he fell from heaven. Jesus makes a comparison indicated by the simile “as”. The comparison is not that as lightning falls from heaven so Satan fell from heaven. The point of the comparison is rather that the swiftness of the fall of Satan is as lightning falling from heaven.
    The context indicates that the casting out of demons and not the fall of a rebel angel is the subject of reference. (vs. 17).

    Satan (Greek: adversary)2 is used by Jesus to describe the binding effect of sin through diseases. A number of passages indicate this:
    Luke 11:14-23 – The cause of dumbness (which was attributed to demon possession in the vernacular of the time – vs. 14) was associated with the “house” of Satan. (vs. 17-18). The subsequent cure was said to be the “kingdom of God” coming, since the power of the King was present. (vs. 20-22).
    Luke 13:10-17 – Jesus healed a woman who had “a spirit of infirmity eighteen years”. (vs. 11). But this same healing is described as “a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years”. (vs. 16).
    Hence, the victory of the seventy over demons resulted in the dethronement of Satan (the adversary) in his “house”. The cures effected by the disciples were so complete and rapid as to be compared to lightning falling from heaven. Despite this victory over the powers of sin and its effect – disease. Jesus instructs his disciples to rejoice rather that their names were written in heaven. (Luke 10:20). (WRESTED SCRIPTURES by Ron Abel)

    ——————————————————————————–

    Footnotes:

    Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine: An Explanation of Certain Major Aspects of Seventh-day Adventist Belief, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Ass., 1957), pp. 618, 619.

    Robert Young, Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible, (London: Lutterworth Press, 1965).

    . . . . In olden days medical terms and the causes of diseases were unknown. Most illness, especially insanity, was attributed to evil spirits or demons. . . . . (Source: George M. Lamsa New Testament Light (Philadelphia: A. J.Holman, 1945), pp. 57- 58.)

    Dr. Lamsa spoke the original language of Aramaic and other Eastern Languages.

    Also

    1. For the wages of sin [is] death; . . . (Rom. 6:23) KJV

    2. ALL spirit angels never die (Luke 20:36) KJV (Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; . . . .)

    If you can never die, then you can never sin.

    If some “think / claim” that there are a total of TWO classes consisting of – 1. heavenly and 2. ex-heavenly angels, and therefore some (i.e. class 2.) are somehow NOT God’s angels any longer, then please provide evidence to substantiate that claim. For clearly ALL things belong to God at ALL times, without exception – E. g. – Proof: -

    The great [God] that formed all [ things ] . . . (Prov. 26:10) KJV

    I [am] the LORD that maketh all [ things ]; . . . (Isaiah 44:24) KJV

    All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1: 3) KJV

    For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him , and for him : (Col. 1:16) KJV

    Result: No Satan spirit being, No devil spirit being / No fallen heavenly angels / No literal spirit demons etc. etc.

    Thank you

    BTW: What Bible Version did Mr. Sean Finnegen quote his Luke 10:18 from, he does not appear to give a source?

  6. on 09 Jan 2010 at 6:16 pmBrad

    My take on Christ’s description of Satan’s fall is that he is speaking of what he had seen in prayer as the Spirit of God showed him “things to come,” just as John was witness to and later described – future events in Revelation. Jesus was a prophet, and upon his baptism, the “heavens were opened to him.” John the Apostle “came to be in Spirit on the Lord’s Day,” and we can be sure Jesus had similar experiences with His Father, in a clarity much more vivid than John had experienced. The transfiguration was one such event in my view.

    Satan is still the accuser of “the brethren,” “brethren” being a New Testament identification of believers. Satan stands before God day and night accusing “the brethren.” We are to overcome such accusations by the blood of the Lamb, and it is our place to do so, and see to Satan’s ultimate removal from “his place” there as we play our God-ordained role of seeing to the full and experiential execution of God’s judgement rendered upon Christ’s resurrection. The prophecy in Isaiah 14 speaks of an event still to come, and Jesus, as a prophet, had seen it and simply bore witness of it. When the dragon/satan is cast out of heaven (Rev 12), he knows he has but a short time. The 3.5 year time keys in Revelation dovetail precisely with the removal of Satan, and this “short time” he has left.

    Of course, Satan has access to earth as well as he exercises his role as our acuser. Christ’s temptation is an example of this access, along with many other scriptures. He does, however, maintain a legal practice in the courtroom of heaven. Satan’s strategy is to delay the execution of his sentence for as long as he can, by accusing us of the same things he has been judged for. He argues equity demands that we be punished too. Only our collective and faith-filled counter-argument based on the blood of Christ can defeat this strategy, and it will, no doubt about the time we all come to the unity of the faith and the full and accurate knowledge of the Son of God. (Eph 4:13). For unto which of the angels said He at any time, you are my Son, this day have I begetton you? The whole creation waits for the manifestation of the Sons of God, and when it happens, when we stand up and take our authority as Sons in that wonderful Ephesians 4:13 unity, Satan shall be cast out once and for all, and his eternal doom will not be far behind.

    Yes, Christadelphians, Satan and demons are real, and much of the revelation of Christ’s humanity finds relevance in the equitable problem, and really the judicial problem, that occured in the Garden of Eden when both mankind and “serpent-kind” sinned. That’s when this whole trial started, and only “the seed of the woman” crushing the serpent’s head could put an end to it. This whole story is largely about the universal dilemma of human and angelic rebellion, and the problem it presented to a just being – God the Father. But yes, Satan is a real being, and so are his angels. Jesus certainly taught about them and assumed their existence, he even spoke to them and cast them out of people. It is always safest to go with Jesus, and he took Satan as a personality literally. Efforts to make all of his teaching symbolic and allegorical work against efforts to apply precision to, and extract literal meaning from, the scriptures that prove Jesus is our glorified and exaulted brother — at least that is my sense of these issues.

  7. on 19 Jun 2010 at 10:25 amrobert

    Margaret
    Here is a better thread that is more related to your discussion with andrew. I have enjoyed yours and his discussion.
    Maybe you could invite him here to continue

  8. on 20 Jun 2010 at 5:54 pmrobert

    BTW
    the Robert above in post 5 isnt me

  9. on 20 Jun 2010 at 6:34 pmDoubting Thomas

    Robert
    I’m glad you clarified that. I didn’t think those beliefs sounded like something that you would say. I was wondering what you thought of my theory that I mentioned to Fortigurn in Msg. #570 in the ‘Another Trinity/Monotheism Debate’ thread, where we were talking about Satan falling from heaven like lightening.

    I had said, “Mathew 11:12 Jesus says, ‘From the days of John the Baptist till now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.’ I believe here Jesus is talking about Satan leading his angels in a rebellion against God. And then in Luke 10:18 Jesus says, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven.’ I believe at this point the rebellion was crushed, Satan was evicted from heaven and the angels that followed him were chained up behind the gates of hell to wait for the final day of judgment.”

    This is just my own personal way of interpreting and trying to make sense of these scriptures. Am I the only one that believes this or is this a common interpretation among Christians???

  10. on 20 Jun 2010 at 7:23 pmrobert

    Thomas
    this is a very hard verse because of Luke 16
    16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
    In Revelation 12 it does speak of Satan’s rebellion and a war but I see that occuring after the incident in the garden because of Ezekiel 28. If you read verse1-10 you will see the King of Tyrus is addresed as just a prince but shows there is no human higher than him then in verses11-19 you find just who is behind the power of King of Tyrus and why he was refered to as just a prince. this is a very detailed account of the position satan held as being the anointed one( King.Christ) and his fall from this position.
    It seems that Mathew 11:12 and Luke 16:16.17 is adressing men who force their way into the promises to Abraham who didnt participate in the standards set up for that promise. There are 2 different promises that 2 different groups are called to.First the material promise that was made only to Israel and those who joined themself to them who set themselfs apart from other nations and those of the spiritual blessing which will occur after Gods sabbath 1000 years.
    But as i said this is a very difficult verse

  11. on 20 Jun 2010 at 8:57 pmDoubting Thomas

    Robert
    I can see what you mean about these verses being difficult. But, I am confused if Ezekiel 28:11-19 is talking about Satan and his fall from the lofty position he once held then some of the last verses don’t seem to make sense, unless they are maybe in the future tense.

    Ezekiel 28:17-19 “Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. (18) By the multitude of your inequities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out of your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. (19) All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.”

    It sounds like he was consumed by the fire in the past tense???

  12. on 20 Jun 2010 at 9:14 pmrobert

    18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. 19 All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, [5] and never shalt thou be any more.

    I find KJV provides a better context of past,present and future but there are several other translations other than KJV that provide it and several others that dont but it wont make sense at all if you see the ending verses as past.

  13. on 20 Jun 2010 at 9:21 pmDoubting Thomas

    Robert
    That makes sense. I guess my ESV might not be the best translation after all…

  14. on 20 Jun 2010 at 9:30 pmrobert

    Thomas
    These are some of the very first english translations which all put the ending verses as future.
    I cant see how modern translation change this because if the last verses are past tense than there would be no need for the whole subject to even be wrote

    Peshitta – Lamsa Translation

    18 By the multitude of your frauds, by the iniquity of your traffic, you have defiled your sanctuary; therefore I will bring forth a fire from the midst of you, and it shall devour you, and I will reduce you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all those who see you. 19 All those who know you among the people shall be astonished at you; you shall be brought to destruction, and you never shall be any more.

    The Geneva Bible (1587)

    18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctification by the multitude of thine iniquities, & by the iniquitie of thy marchandise: therefore wil I bring forth a fire from the mids of thee, which shall deuoure thee: and I wil bring thee to ashes vpon the earth, in the sight of all them that beholde thee. 19 All they that knowe thee among the people, shalbe astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terrour, and neuer shalt thou be any more.

    The Bishop’s Bible (1568)

    18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctification with the great wickednesse of thyne vnrighteous occupying: I will bring a fire from the middest of thee to consume thee, and will make thee to asshes vpon the earth, in the sight of all them that loke vpon thee. 19 Al they that haue ben acquainted with thee among the heathen shalbe abashed at thee: thou hast ben a terrour, and neuer shalt thou be any more.

    Miles Coverdale Bible (1535)
    18 Thou hast defyled thy Sactuary, wt the greate wickednesse off thy onrightuous occupyenge. I wil bringe a fyre from the myddest of the, to consume the: ad wil make the to asshes, in the sight of all the yt loke vpon the. 19 All they that haue bene acquaunted with the amonge the Heithe, shalbe abasshed at the: seinge thou art so clene brought to naught, and comest no more vp.

    The Wycliffe Bible (1395)
    18 In the multitude of thi wickidnessis, and in wickidnesse of thi marchaundie thou defoulidist thin halewyng; therfor Y schal brynge forth fier of the myddis of thee, that schal ete thee; and Y schal yyue thee in to aische on erthe, in the siyt of alle men seynge thee. 19 Alle men that schulen se thee among hethene men, schulen be astonyed on thee; thou art maad nouyt, and thou schalt not be with outen ende.

  15. on 20 Jun 2010 at 9:37 pmrobert

    Thomas
    there is no single translation that is superior thats why we should look at as many translations as possible and use common sense and the whole subject to find the context but sometimes no translation makes sense and even the original language because the definitions and idioms have been corrupted or lost by earlier translators

  16. on 20 Jun 2010 at 11:14 pmDoubting Thomas

    Robert
    Thanks for helping me to understand these texts. About 5 or 6 years ago, I had found my NIV study bible too big and heavy to be easily read and had decided to buy a smaller paper back bible. My friend Tim had told me that he thought the ESV was the best translation so that’s what I bought. I find it very easy and comfortable to sit and read my paperback ESV.

    You once sent me a link to the Net bible. But I found all the numbers under the groups of words very confusing and couldn’t really make head or tails of the numbers or what they meant. Seeing the different translations though was helpful. Maybe I should try to use the Net bible more often in my studies…

  17. on 22 Oct 2010 at 3:21 amLeonard D. Raglin

    In response to an earlier blog:
    The position of Prince is lower than King in our way we’ve learned European/Anglo history. Please… Don’t automatically take that understanding and interpret scripture with it or we may find ourselves in error without knowing it.
    In many instances of Biblical history, the King himself was the Prince(Ruler or Governor) over the land. And it’s also true, in many instances the King set up governors who ruled territories in the Kings name. I believe context in Ezekiel28 clearly shows the prince and the King to be the same human person.
    For example… Jesus is King/Prince!
    As King of Kings, Jesus is second to no man. Under authority to the Heavenly Father but Jesus didn’t think it was robbery to be equal to Him either. (Kind of like the way a good marriage should work between a husband and wife.)
    Yet Jesus is the Prince or the person set in authority to RULE. He is the Prince of Peace. All rule and authority is under His feet.
    The identity of the “former” Prince of this world is Adam and those offsprings of his who possess the fallen human nature. That prince that Jesus was referring to was not a fallen angel named Lucifer. That ruler has been(past tense) judged and cast out. I’m talking about sinful mankind!
    I believe Ezekiel was comparing the King of Tyrus to Adam who “HAD been in Eden, the garden of God” before being cast out. The word Lucifer doesn’t appear anywhere in the passage. Why do we add it?

    The popular interpretation is incorrect, traditional teaching. Try this as a comparitive!
    “The workmanship of your Gibson Guitar, Lexus, Golden Gate Bridge and Space Shuttle were PRE-PARED in you the day you were created.”
    God PRE-pared all potential things in the HUMAN king of Tyrus for his future cherubic rule as king. God didn’t wait until he was king to put that potential in him. The Creator PRE-pared it at the kings’ creation. Just as God PRE-pared all potential in ADAM at HIS creation.
    After the potential was placed in Man, God placed Adam in mankinds 1st estate… God’s garden known as Eden. Eden was and is a place where potential can grow properly under the husbandman’s care. Part of the gardener’s job is to guard the garden against all enemies… without and within. If you are in charge, it’s your God-ordained job to be the covering “cherubic angel” against all enemies. The Lord showed us how all angels behave when, in Genesis, cherubs assisted God in protecting the garden against Adam and Eve. That’s when mankind was cast out as enemies of the garden. Sorta like worms that devour garden crops! The enemies were cast out!
    Back to Ezekiel:
    I humbly submit that this understanding of Ezekiel matches context better than adding the words “satan” or “Lucifer” to a passage that mentions neither!
    “Thou(King of Tyrus) has been in Eden.” Stating the obvious: Eden was and is a garden. Gardens grow potential! As far as I’ve ever read over the last 40 plus years of biblical studies, I’ve never seen scriptural evidence stating that angels grow. But HUMANS do! Ezekiel28 is clearly a biblical lesson about a human… not a fallen angel. There’s no such being.

    The cherubic protective covering potential in Tyrus’ ruler was offset by his Adamic inner human greed potential. Thus the lamentation over his decision!

    Wings are resources given by God during creation to protect those under the covering of those wings, from enemies. The 1st Adam’s cherubic potential was placed within him at creation. His wingspan was pre-ordained to cover the globe. He failed. The last Adam did not. The king of Tyrus’ cherubic potential was in him at creation. Hitler’s cherubic potential was in him. He clearly chose to follow the old Adamic nature instead of covering God’s beloved Jewish people. Like the ruler of Tyrus, Hitler chose to use his political power to pillage instead of protect.
    I firmly believe that every President ever elected to the United States has had the cherubic potential placed within them at their creation to cherubically cover this country from all enemies foreign and domestic. How they choose to use that power influences the entire world.
    You have the cherubic potential within you and so do I. It has to grow uninhibited in the garden of God without enemy influence. Political ambition often brings selfishness. HUMAN greed will set in like it did with the king of Tyrus. Then God must dethrone the king as he did with Hitler, Stalin and so many other HUMAN rulers in leadership if we allow it within ourselves. The first to fall wasn’t an angel. It was Adam! ANGELS NEVER FALL!

  18. on 14 Jul 2014 at 10:16 pmJohn H

    you guys are overthinking this. Jesus saw satan fall from heaven – he was found with iniquity and was cast out. Jesus witnessed this.

  19. on 15 Jul 2014 at 12:22 pmJas

    John
    Jesus is just stating Satan was cast out of Heaven by God so it is no great feat that they cast out demons by the authority given them through The Holy Spirit. The greek does not support the additions added to the english that Jesus saw this happen in person or by vision.
    ‘Behold ! Satan fell from Heaven like lightening falls”
    Determining context is not overthinking, it is absolutely necessary to understand.

  20. on 17 Jul 2014 at 6:56 pmRay

    I wonder if Satan had been busy accusing these disciples of Jesus before the throne of God until heaven began to see all that they were doing in Jesus’ name. Then maybe the Father gave Jesus a revelation
    in the form of a picture.

  21. on 18 Jul 2014 at 12:15 pmJas

    Ray
    The moment Jesus was chosen ,anointed and tempted by satan all accusations against mankind were put to rest because Jesus proved mankind was capable of complete obedience removing the curse of remaining in the grave(Hell).
    This is what Adam,David especially Solomon failed to do as Christ. Solomon fell to temptation instead of following God’s will failing to become the sacrifice needed to make peace between God and mankind. God gave 70 weeks(years) 70 x 49 for Israel to put away sin. With in that 3430 years the One prophesied in Gen 3 was guarantied to come. It finally came 1400 years into that time line.
    Satan’s fall from the right hand of God was when he refused to return All authority back to God after God rest his first Sabbath and Jesus will rule over the next Sabbath Rest of God and will return All Authority after this reign

  

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